Cloudy with a Chance of Sales
A high-quality umbrella may be taken for granted most of the time, but when the umbrella underperforms in the middle of a big storm, the memory lingers. So what should you be on the lookout for? Inexpensive umbrellas will show weaknesses in the frames, fabric and handles. The shafts break, the fabrics bleed, the handles crack and they may not open properly—all instances you don't want your clients facing in a storm.
On the flip side, there are some must-have features to look for when shopping umbrellas. "Folding umbrellas [are adopting an] auto-open/auto-close feature," Nanus said. "This new design enables the user to more easily close the umbrella. Vented technology [is a] major trend to add vents to many umbrellas so that in a heavy gust of wind, the umbrella will not invert." He further advised distributors to look into umbrellas that have been tunnel-tested to guarantee the vents are effective.
INKING THE DEAL
When it comes to imprint technology there are a few important aspects distributors should know. Although there are new print technologies available, "screen printing is still the favored and best application to decorate umbrellas," noted Libman. "If printed correctly, a screen print will stay on the umbrella for life and will not fade or peel," he explained.
The latest advent in umbrella print technology is in heat transfers or "cool transfers." This technology has become very popular because it enables easy multicolor/four-color process logo reproduction on the umbrella fabric. But this is another case where buyers should beware. "Due to the waterproof coating applied to nylon and polyester umbrellas, heat transfers have proven to not be permanent over time and may peel. Application and quality of transfer is important," noted Libman.
COVER YOUR BASES
What is clear is that one simple umbrella is quite technical with many features and capabilities. "Sell innovation. More than ever, clients are asking distributors for new products [and] ideas," Nanus said. "There are lots of exciting new umbrella products with very high perceived value. If the distributor can source unique product then they are truly providing strong service and therefore should be able to work on better margins."